Tag Archives: Children’s Books

Get Caught Reading: Personalized Books Engage Young Readers (plus Discount Code)

19 May

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Did you know May is National Get Caught Reading Month?  In a digital age where kids are often seen holding iPads or their parent’s smart phone, it’s exciting when kids want to read and are engaged in their books.  I love seeing when my girls pick up a book and read.  Not because I made them or because it was homework but because they love what they are reading. Personalized books are a great way to engage kids and encourage them to “get caught reading”.


I See Me offers personalized books for kids.  Include your child’s birthdate, gender, hair color, skin color, add a photo of your child, create a message/ dedication to them, choose your child’s favorite color, as well as add the name of their best friend and/ or sibling(s).  Each story will be unique and fun for your child to read.  They are able to relate and will want to read it over and over again.  The books make a wonderful gift for new babies or birthdays.


My oldest received her first I See Me, My Very Own Fairy Tale  book as a gift when she was born, almost 7 years ago.   When  she was a toddler, I read it to her and she couldn’t believe that the story was about her.  She recognized her name.  Now that she is reading, she loves to go back and read her “very own fairy tale”.

IMG_1283 IMG_1284

My youngest, 5, just received her first I See Me book.  She loves when I snuggle in bed with her and read at night.  I chose Sweet Dreams, Fairy for her first book.  The first time I read it to her she leaped out of bed surprised and excited that there were fairies named after her best friend and sister.  She loves it so much, I catch her “reading” all the time-not just at bed time.  She reads it to her dolls and our most recent visitor, my brother’s French Bulldog.  It’s a sweet story with beautiful illustrations.


I See Me offers personalized products for everyone and every occasion.  In addition to books they offer personalized lunchboxes, puzzles, placemats, coloring books, stickers and growth charts.


For more information visit: http://www.iseeme.com/. You can also find I See Me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Sweet Dreams Fairy to personalize for my daughter.  This did not alter my opinion.  All opinions and images are my own.

Celebrating The Chinese New Year With The China Institute’s We All Live In The Forbidden City ( BOOK GIVEAWAY)

18 Feb

Tomorrow, February 19 is the start to the Chinese New Year.  The year of the Horse has come and gone and we are moving into the year of the Sheep.  The China Institute’s We All Live in the Forbidden City program includes children’s books and educational workshops that celebrate Chinese cultural history and fun for kids, a great resource for at home or in a classroom. 

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Living in NYC, a city rich in culture, my girls are always asking about different cultures.  To celebrate the Chinese New Year, we received two books from the China Institute to teach them about the culture and history of China’s Forbidden City (mentioned below).

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

This is the Greatest Place!, published by The China Institute, is an adorable book for children ages four to eight (which happened to be the age range my girls fall into).

Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration to design a great palace for the Emperor of China. Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us
with the wonders that enrich our lives. Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps. -http://www.walfc.org

My girls loved the illustrations and the characters.  They loved the flip pages that describe how nature inspired the Forbidden City.  It’s an educational book in which engaged my daughters.    It is available here for $12.95.
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In the Forbidden City, also published by The China Institue, is a book for children ages nine and up.  This was a little above my girls but I think they would gain good knowledge when they are older.   It’s more in-depth with the history of the Forbidden Palace.  The drawings and details are incredible.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes.  Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the  drawings more closely. -http://www.walfc.org

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Image from The China Institure

Find activities, lessons, crafts and more at http://www.walfc.org/play/activities/ 


Or why not make your own dumplings to celebrate The New Year! Recipe from China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Ingredients:  Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pork & Chive Filling:

  • 1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
  • 2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced


Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don’t add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well. Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers. Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers. To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don’t stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.
GIVEAWAY:  A lucky winner will receive a copy of This is the Greatest Place! OR In the Forbidden City.   Leave a comment below with your Zodiac Sign and/ or your favorite Chinese dish/ recipe.  Contest ends February 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm.
Image from Calendar777.com

Image from Calendar777.com

To learn more or find out about events to celebrate the Year of the Sheep, visit: http://www.chinainstitute.org/
Disclaimer:  I received copies of the books for review.  Information in italics as well as the recipe are from the China Institute.  All other opinions expressed are my own.

Daisy and Josephine Is “TuTu” Cute!

26 Jan


Walking home from haircuts we always stop at the puppy stores on Christopher St. During our second visit, my oldest daughter fell in love with a black French Bulldog she named Frenchie. She left the store in tears. And every time we go by she looks for Frenchie in hopes he’ll come home with us one day!  Any time she sees a French Bulldog, she gets so excited!


The other week I attended a Mamarazzi event with The MOMS to celebrate the release of Melissa Gilbert’s book, Daisy and Josephine.   My girls, especially my oldest, was so excited for the event and the book when she learned that Josephine was a “Frenchie”. The event took place at Bucco di Beppo in Times Square.  Dinner featured pizza, pasta, and salad. To drink, we sampled Arizona Iced Tea’s collaboration with Skinnygirl, the Skinnygirl Sparklers.  The kids tried Arizona Kidz!  My girls loved the (decaffeinated) flavors: Arnold Palmer and lemon iced tea.


After dinner, Melissa Gilbert arrived and read her adorable book about the friendship between Daisy and her French Bulldog, Josephine.  Similar to Melissa, Daisy grows up with a father in the entertainment business.  She was on the road often with him and found maintaining friendships difficult.  In the story, Daisy’s father gives her a puppy to keep her company!  Throughout the story they create a wonderful friendship and a special bond!

Image from The Moms

Image from The Moms

My daughter was elated to meet the real Josephine, who looked very similar to the Frenchie she fell in love with. We all know Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.  My girls will forever remember her as the woman with the cutest French Bulldog, Josephine, with hot pink nails, a tutu and the author of their new favorite book!

Daisy and Josephine is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon!


In a Q&A, Melissa Gilbert said she will be releasing a Prarie Cookbook in the near future with favorite recipes and some that were inspired by her time on the set of Little House on a Prarie!  Can’t wait to see the recipes and try them with the girls!

Dsclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post, all opinions expressed are my own.  We received dinner and a copy of the book for attending the event.

Downtown Bookworks: The Do It Myself Kids’ Cookbook and Other Great Books

7 Feb

Image from downtownbookworks.com

Downtown Bookworks is a children’s publishing company founded two years ago by Julie Merberg.  Julie is a mom of four and tests everything out on her own children. Their “mission is to raise a new generation of book lovers with books that engage, entertain, educate and feel good in small hands”.  Initially, I reached out to Downtown Bookworks for the The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook but Julie invited me to their office to see more of their books.  They offer a variety of books for all ages.  They have a cookbook, a “green and groovy” craft series, activity books for on-the-go entertainment, and many adorable reads with beautiful illustrations. Downtown Bookworks accomplished their mission with both of my girls and here is how…

Click image to purchase from B&N

Image from downtownbookworks.com

Over the holidays I bought The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook by Laurie Goldrich Wolfe on Zulily as a joint gift.  Since buying the cookbook, the girls have enjoyed making and eating many of the recipes.   I have used it as part of our morning or afternoon activity time to keep the girls busy so they won’t get caught up with the TV or scream for the IPAD. The recommended age on the book is 5+, but with support, direction, and preparing ingredients beforehand, the girls have been able to make many of the recipes.  Pela has had the most difficulty, as expected, but has no problem letting Maddie create so she can eat.  The best feature of the book, especially if you are using it with younger children, are the step by step illustrations for the recipe.  None of the recipes require anything sharp and are not hot, perfect for little ones.  We noticed many of the recipes have peanut butter as an ingredient.  Peanut butter can easily be substituted with alternatives like soy butter.  Our favorite recipes are the Cream Cheese, Strawberry Quesadillas, and the Orange Juice Strawberry Spritzer.  The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook  would be a great addition to any parents kitchen and would make a wonderful gift for your child’s friends.

Making Cream Cheese Strawberry Pineapple Quesadillas

Yummy in my Tummy!

Ready to make Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Cones!


Books I received that are perfect to take to restaurants, the doctor’s office, long car rides, and other places you have to entertain while waiting:

Click to purchase from B&N

I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love keys.  It was the first item my girls tried to grab from me to play with as babies.  Now they take turns trying to unlock our mailbox and apartment door. Turn the Key  Around Town by Julie Merberg is a favorite for both girls.  They fight over it when we are out.  The book has a yellow key attached, and a little slot in the top of the book to store the key when not using it.  Each page has a door to different spots around town.  You have to unlock the door to see what is inside.  I tell the girls that they need to lock the door when they turn the page to go to the next store.  It is a great book to keep little ones busy while working on their fine-motor skills.  Maddie goes through it pretty quickly so to buy time we talk about our favorite neighborhood spots.  She also likes making up her own story with the illustrations.  It is a must when packing our activity bag. Recommended for ages 1-4.

Unlocking doors until Maddie finishes dance class!

Even great for a long drive!

Click to purchase from B&N

EYE Q Picture Puzzler by Georgia Rucker is a beautifully illustrated with bright themed puzzles.  Each puzzle is a different theme with three or more challenges.  The book includes a dry erase marker to complete the challenges.  Challenges include circling what doesn’t belong, counting, choosing your favorite treat, finding shapes and more.  Maddie  has difficultly completing the challenges independently.  If I am not there to help she attempts to do it on her own by circling her favorites.  Recommended ages 4 and up.

Waiting for dinner

Other books I received:

Click to purchase from B&N

Animals in Art: Art from the Start by  Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober teach children about animals through historic artwork.  The artwork makes it fun for adults too, you may see some of your favorite artists in there.  A list of the artists with museums is in the back of the book.  If you are feeling adventurous, visit the museum where your child’s favorite animal is.  Both of my girls love animals so this was a great book for them. There are two other Art from the Start books: How is Mona Lisa Feeling and Mama, Baby, & Other FIrst Words.  Recommended ages 0-3.

Click to purchase from B&N

Absolutely adorable is the only way I can describe The House That Mouse Built by Maggie Rudy and Pam Abrams.  We read it at least once a day.  Every detail of the house is so amazing, Maddie has asked to go to Mouses House.  The story is about a mouse that left cheese out and another mouse stole it and got hurt while running away.  Every time I read it I think about Maddie and Pela at meal-time.  Maddie always leaves food out and Pela runs off with it.  When Maddie tries to get it back Pela always ends in tears.  It is definitely worth reading. My girls love it.  Recommended age 4 and Up.

A book before bed!

Click to purchase from B&N

 I’m So Not Wearing a Dress be Julie Merberg is about a girl who would rather play sports and get dirty then wear pink and get manicures.  Her Aunts asks her to wear a dress for her wedding but does not want to. In the end she makes a deal and wears the dress. You need to read it to find out how her parents got her to wear a dress.  We haven’t read this book as much as the others but I often find myself making deals with Maddie when getting dressed in the morning because her choice is usually inappropriate for the weather.  Recommended age 3-6 years

"Reading" on the stroll home from school!

To find out more information and see more books visit Downtown Bookworks.  Books are available at Amazon, indiebound.org, and Barnes & Noble.
Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post.  I received books for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.